Former Arvato Print topper replaces Olson

More changes at Random House: the publishing giant’s parent company Bertelsmann AG has announced the appointment of new chief executive Markus Dohle, who will replace Peter W. Olson effective May 31. Olson has held the position since 1998 and will go on to pursue an academic career, according to Bertelsmann.

Random House, and the book biz in general, has been dealing with flagging book sales over the past year, and reports earlier this month suggested that Olson might be on his way out. Olson’s management style was characterized by close attention to profitability. In 2003, the exec fired Random House Trade Group prexy Ann Godoff and sent out a press release stating that Godoff’s unit was the only one “to consistently fall short of their profitability targets.”

The new head of the world’s largest English-language general trade publisher comes from another division of Bertelsmann — not publishing, but printing. Dohle has never worked in the publishing industry before but comes from a position at the head of the profitable Arvato Print. The promotion is the first major appointment from newly minted Bertelsmann head Hartmut Ostrowski, who left his position at Arvato (where he worked with Dohle) in January to take over the company.

In his departure letter to his colleagues at Random House, Olson said that he looked forward to his new life in academia, and noted that during his tenure, Random House published 4,000 national bestsellers, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners and works by eight Nobel Prize laureates.

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